Thousands of chickens killed in southeastern Manitoba barn fire

Tens of thousands of chickens are dead following a barn fire in southeastern Manitoba.

Cause of fire under investigation

An estimated 27,000 chickens were killed when a barn went up in flames near Blumenort, Man. early Sunday. (Submitted by Paul Wiebe)

Tens of thousands of chickens are dead following a barn fire in southeastern Manitoba.

Fire crews from the Rural Municipality of Hanover were called to the blaze at a chicken barn on Road 31E, southwest of Blumenort, Man., around 3:40 a.m. Sunday.

The fire at the family farm was fully involved when crews arrived, and firefighters were forced to take a defensive approach to battle the significant blaze, said Hanover Fire Chief Paul Wiebe.

"When I got there, the roof was down already. It doesn't take very long with some of these barns," Wiebe told CBC News later in the day Sunday. "The fire can burn pretty hot in there and it's covered metal, so it contains the heat, which makes it hard to access for fire fighting.

"The roof sheeting is all metal, the walls are all metal, so it's really hard to get to the flame."

Crews from the Kleefeld, Blumenort and Grunthal fire departments were all called in to help, along with a tanker truck from the Steinbach Fire Department, said Wiebe.

Fire chief Paul Wiebe said the barn fire was fully engulfed when crews arrived. (Submitted by Paul Wiebe)

In all, more than 50 firefighters were initially on scene fighting the fire, and a crew stayed until Sunday afternoon putting out hotspots, said Wiebe.

No injuries were reported in the blaze, but Wiebe said an estimated 27,000 chickens died. He said it could have been worse.

The barn housed as many as 50,000 chickens, and, with help from a firewall that slowed the fire's spread, Wiebe said firefighters were able to save half the barn and the remaining chickens.

"I know it sounds like a high number, but on the bright note, we probably saved as many [as we lost]," he said.

The Office of the Fire Commissioner is investigating and the cause is yet to be determined.

Wiebe called the damage "significant", although an official estimate wasn't immediately available.

Blumenort is 42 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg.

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